LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan- Gen. David Petraeus, commander of United States’ Central Command, met with U.S. and Afghan Soldiers, as well as Baraki Barak Sub-Governor Mohammed Lodin and local businessmen at Combat Outpost Baraki Barak, Oct. 29.
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan- Gen. David Petraeus, commander of United States’ Central Command, met with U.S. and Afghan Soldiers, as well as Baraki Barak Sub-Governor Mohammed Lodin and local businessmen at Combat Outpost Baraki Barak, Oct. 30.
Petraeus removed his body armor and made his way out the gate into the bustling marketplace (without his protective equipment). He shook hands, waved to children and invited shoppers down the block to a local bakery for bread and chai. Once seated, with Lodin standing nearby, Petraeus spoke to several locals about their government.
araki Barak’s district center, which officially opened the day before Petraeus’ visit, was a topic of many discussions. “What do you think of your sub governor?” and “How do you feel about the election?” were among the many questions Petraeus asked while sipping chai tea.
Although the Baraki Barak’s district center just barely opened its doors, but the government is already eager for citizens to begin to use the new center to broach their concerns and ideas.“We’re trying to give them a positive image of what the government is doing here,” said Lodin.Petraeus made a point of letting the people know how pleased he was with the progress being made in the area.
“The American people have felt privileged to help the people who want to provide for their families,” Petraeus said. “We want nothing more than to help the people who reject the extremism that has caused problems here and elsewhere.”
Although the new district center is a positive start, the work is not done. The Afghan government is still in its early stages and extremists still live amongst the people of Logar province.
“It’s going to take time and it’s going to take cooperation,” Petraeus said, in regards to attaining complete success in ridding Logar of extremism and improving its economy and infrastructure. “It’s going to take sweat from the community, not just money from the outside.”
“This has to be your work,” he added, addressing a local shopkeeper. “We are privileged to help, but as you know, it means more if you build it. We call this sweat equity when you invest your own sweat, your own work.”
Before leaving, he made a point of letting the people know he realized many issues were emotionally charged.
“As we used to say in Iraq, ‘it’s okay to talk … it’s even okay to shout, it’s just not ok to shoot,” Petraeus said.